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Pennsylvania Child Labor Laws - The Complete Guide for 2023

Employers in Pennsylvania must stay compliant with Pennsylvania Child Labor Law when hiring employees that are under the age of 18. Pennsylvania Child Labor Law has specific requirements and restrictions for hours worked and duties performed, special child labor work permits, scheduling, recordkeeping, and more. This article covers everything employers need to know about Pennsylvania Child Labor Laws.

PA Child Labor Laws Overview

The Pennsylvania Child Labor Law (CLL) was enacted with the goal in mind of "providing for the health, safety, and welfare of minors by forbidding their employment or work in certain establishments and occupations, and under certain specified ages".

Generally, employers in Pennsylvania need to be aware of the following aspects when hiring employees under the age of 18: 

  • Restrictions on duties performed
  • Restrictions on hours worked
  • PA Child Labor Work Permits and related notice requirements
  • Recordkeeping requirements 

Please note that under the Pennsylvania Child Labor Law, the definition of a minor is “an individual who is under 18 years old”. Companies should be aware of all the compliance requirements when hiring minors and take action to stay compliant. 

Prohibited Occupations for Minors in Pennsylvania

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, there are many restrictions on the duties a minor can perform in Pennsylvania, which differ depending on the age of the minor and the industry they are working in. Additionally, there are certain occupations in which minors outright may not be hired for.

Prohibited Occupations for All Minors

All minors in Pennsylvania may not perform the following duties or be hired for the following occupations:

  • Brickmaker 
  • Crane operator
  • Electrical worker
  • Elevator operator
  • Excavator
  • Explosives manufacturing
  • Forest firefighting
  • Forest service/mill worker
  • Meat processing
  • Motion picture (film) projectionist
  • Motor vehicle  
  • Paint, acids, and poison manufacturer
  • Roofer
  • Spray coater
  • Welder
  • Woodworking
  • Wrecking and/or demolition worker 

All minors are also prohibited from working in the following scenarios: 

  • In establishments where alcoholic beverages are produced, sold or dispensed
  • On boats
  • On machinery
  • On baking machinery
  • In metal industries
  • In mines
  • In quarries
  • In the printing and paper industry
  • Around radioactive substances
  • On railroads and railways
  • On rivets
  • In tanneries 

Prohibited Occupations for Minors Under 16 Years Old

Minor employees under the age of 16 may not perform the following duties or be hired for the following/ occupations:

  • On coal dredges 
  • In freezer or meat coolers 
  • On highways 
  • In manufacturing
  • In pattern making shops 
  • For public utilities 
  • On scaffolding 
  • On trucks, railroads, and conveyors 
  • In tunnels
  • In warehousing and storage

Prohibited Occupations for Minors in the PA Entertainment Industry

All minors in Pennsylvania may not perform the following stunts or acts, as well as in the following scenarios in the entertainment industry:  

  • An acrobatic act that is hazardous to the minor’s safety or well-being
  • Use of/or exposure to dangerous weapons or pyrotechnical devices
  • Activities that have a high level of inherent danger including activities involving speed, height, a high level of physical exertion and highly specialized gear or spectacular stunts
  • An act that constitutes sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of minors
  • Boxing, sparring or wrestling, except for a bona fide athletic or recognized amateur competition or activity or non-contact portrayal
  • Assisting performers in animal act, conducting an animal into a ring or on stage, or riding an animal when the animal exceeds half the weight of the child performer 

Hours Worked Restrictions for Minors in Pennsylvania

In addition to the restrictions on duties and occupations performed, Pennsylvania also has state-specific requirements and restrictions on hours worked by minors. The restrictions differ depending on the age of the minor employee and whether school is in session. 

Restrictions on Hours Worked for Minors Ages 14 and 15

Minors ages 14 and 15 may not work in the following instances: 

  • Before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. (when school is in session))
    • Otherwise minors may work until 9 p.m.
  • More than 3 hours on a school day (when school is in session)
    • Otherwise minors may work for up to 8 hours
  • More than 18 hours per week (when school is in session)
    • Otherwise minors may work up to 40 hours per week

Note: Students 14 years of age or older whose employment is part of a recognized school-work program supervised by a recognized school authority may be employed for hours which, combined with the hours spent in school, do not exceed 8 hours in a day. Additionally, different rules apply to minors employed in certain farm labor and newspaper delivery positions.

Restrictions on Hours Worked for Minors Ages 16 and 17

Minors ages 16 and 17 may not work in the following instances when school is in session:

  • More than 8 hours per day (when school is in session)
    • Otherwise minors may work for up to 10 hours
  • More than 28 hours per school week (Monday - Friday) (when school is in session). Plus 8 additional hours on Saturdays and Sundays.
    • Otherwise minors may work for up to 48 hours per week
    • The minor may reject any request for employment in excess of 44 hours in a single week without retaliation
  • Before 6 a.m. or after 12 a.m. (midnight) (when school is in session)
    • Otherwise minors may work until 1 a.m.

Note: Minors who have graduated from high school or who are exempt from compulsory attendance under the Public School Code (§ 1330(1)) are not subject to these restrictions. Additionally, minors in performances may be subject to different rules.

Scheduling Rules for Minors in Pennsylvania

Furthermore, employers should be aware of some special scheduling rules when it comes to hiring minors in Pennsylvania. Under PA Child Labor Law, minors may not work for more than 6 consecutive days (except for newspaper delivery positions) and for more than 5 consecutive hours without a documented 30-minute uninterrupted break.

Work Permits for Minors in Pennsylvania

A work permit is required for minors in Pennsylvania if they wish to work. Minors are allowed to apply for and accept a job offer prior to obtaining a work permit, but may not start working until they receive the work permit and show it to their employer. Minors can obtain a work permit by submitting the Pennsylvania work permit application for minors.

Minors under 16 must provide their employer a written statement by their parent or legal guardian as well, acknowledging understanding of the duties and hours of employment and granting permission to work. 

Work permits can be obtained from an issuing officer, someone who processes the work permit application and issues the work permit. This is usually the chief administrator of a school district, intermediate school district, public school academy, or nonpublic school.

The primary responsibility of the employer is to notify the issuing officer, in writing, of the employment status of a minor within 5 days after the beginning or termination of employment of said minor. The notice should include detailed duties and hours of employment, the age of the minor, and their work permit number. In addition to this notice, there are other employer responsibilities regarding work permits.

For more information on work permits, please visit the Pennsylvania Department of Education website.

Special Permits for Minor Performers

Employers with workers under the age of 18 in a performance of artistic creative expression either live, on the radio, on television, in a movie or another broadcast medium that is transmitted to an audience, should familiarize themselves with the Application for Minors in Performances.

Recordkeeping Requirements for Hiring Minors in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania employers who hire minors must display the Abstract of the Child Labor Law poster in the workplace, as well as maintain accurate records of:

For each minor, the employer must keep a copy of:

  • The work permit
  • The original verified written statement of parental or guardian consent (for minors under 16)
  • A copy of the letter sent to the issuing officer announcing the employment of the minor 

Get Help with PA Child Labor Laws Compliance

It’s critical for companies that plan to hire minors, or for those who currently employ minors to ensure they understand the compliance requirements regarding Pennsylvania Child Labor Laws and make efforts to stay compliant. 

If you are struggling with Pennsylvania Child Labor Law compliance or other areas regarding payroll and HR, you can always seek help and professional guidance from a Pennsylvania payroll and HR services provider to ensure your business is operating risk-free. Contact us today and get the help you need.

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